Cold trials have started at the solid radioactive waste (SRW) management and storage facility (Project B2/3/4) at Lithuania’s Ignalina nuclear power plant, which is now undergoing decommissioning.

The facility will handle all SRW from the operation and decommissioning of the Ignalina plant, which supplied almost 70% of Lithuania’s power. Lithuania closed Ignalina 1&2 (Soviet-design RBMK reactors) as a condition of its accession to the European Union.

Short- and long-lived SRW totalling 120,000 cubic metres will be sorting, processed and stored at the facility for 50 years. Cold trials, which do not involve any radioactive materials, are part of the pre-commissioning process and the first stage of the facility’s acceptance by the customer. They will run until March 2016. Hot trials involving radioactive substances are slated for 2017, after which the facility will be commissioned. The solid waste retrieval facility is adjacent to the existing temporary waste storage buildings within the plant site. The solid waste treatment and storage facilities have been built on a new site close to the plant, near the interim used fuel storage facility.

The Project B2/3/4 contract with contractor Nukem Technologies GmbH worth €120m ($134m) was signed in November 2005. Costs have since increased to €184m and the commissioning date set by the contract (December 2009) has been postponed many times. The new expected date of commissioning is November 2018. The project is financed by the Ignalina International Decommissioning Support Fund, which is administered by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.